Gray Cargill is the author of SoloFriendly, a solo travel blog, and The Vegas Solo, a website to help you plan your first solo Las Vegas vacation. She has been traveling solo for sixteen years and has visited more than sixteen states in the US and five countries. In her offline life, she works in the non-profit field and lives in Vermont.
1. What has been your best travel experience and why?
I guess I’d have to say my first solo trip to England was the best in some ways, because I learned so much from it, and it’s what served as the jumping-off point for future solo travels. It taught me that I could travel alone, that I could enjoy periods of solitude in a strange place, and yet also make friends along the way. It opened my eyes to cultural differences. It taught me to appreciate what I have. I learned as much from what I didn’t like about that trip as I did from what I did like. Every great travel experience I’ve had since then has been the result of the fact that my first experience gave me the confidence to travel alone.
2. If all your luggage was stolen but you could ask the thief to return just one item, what would it be and why?
My DSLR camera. It would break my heart to lose my vacation photos, and even though mine is a budget DSLR, it was still pretty expensive by my standards. I wouldn’t want to have to replace it.
3. There seems to be an undeserved social stigma to a woman traveling on her own. What do you say to those naysayers?
If there is a stigma about women traveling alone, it’s generally fear-based, and it’s a person projecting his or her own fears and insecurities onto us. I’m sorry they feel that way, but it’s not going to stop me from going. My response is to usually question them about why they feel the way they do, and then respond to their concerns. But I think ultimately, the best response to the stigma about a woman traveling alone is be a woman traveling alone. The more we do it, the more people will come to accept it as the norm.
4. What do you look forward to most in your travels as a single female?
That’s an interesting question. I don’t think the things I look forward to have anything to do with the fact that I’m a single female. What I look forward to the most really depends on the destination, of course. I generally most look forward to seeing things I’ve always wanted to see, trying new experiences, and sampling the local food. I also look forward to travel as a means of getting away from my normal routine.
5. Okay, so HAVE you ever been placed in a dangerous situation while traveling?
Not while traveling alone. I’m pretty good at avoiding dangerous situations when alone. It’s always other people who get me into trouble!
6. What is the best travel advice you can give to someone considering taking a solo trip?
Do it! Yes, there are some drawbacks to solo travel, but the positives far outweigh the negatives. It’s a great treat to be able to do whatever you want at your own pace without having to worry about the needs of a travel companion. As long as you apply common sense, it can be as safe as any other activity in life. And if you are lonely, there are plenty of ways to meet other people when you travel, from staying in hostels or B&Bs to scheduling meetups with friendly travelers you’ve met online to taking an organized day tour—or just chatting up the person next to you at a restaurant counter or standing in line for a museum. To me, there’s just nothing sadder than hearing someone say they’ve always wanted to go to a particular place but haven’t because they have no one to go with. You don’t need someone to go with! Just go.